Sofyan Boalag, 33, of St. John's, will spend at least another night in jail while awaiting a court appearance on charges related to a sexual assault investigation. 

Boalag has been accused of attacking a woman in the downtown area of St. John's on Sunday morning, and police said he is a suspect in four other sexual assaults over the past two months.

But a busy court docket saw his bail hearing postponed until Thursday. 

Lots of social media talk about arrest

Word of Boalag's arrest spread fast on social media sites.

Barbie Wadman, the co-ordinator at the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre, said the message from the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary sparked a lot of discussion on the group's Twitter account.

"We have certainly noticed that with Twitter and Facebook, our following tends to go up when there are cases in the media around sexual violence," Wadman said.

"The response we got from people has certainly been very positive."

Unease in downtown community

However, a growing sense of unrest has gripped many, especially those in the downtown area.


Amanda Wilkins, who works at a bar on George Street, says people don't realize the darker side of downtown. CBC

Amanda Wilkins is a Memorial University student who works at a bar on George Street.

She said reports of the assaults had a big impact on her workplace.

"The bouncers had to walk us to our cars," Wilkins said. "We weren't allowed going anywhere by ourselves at the end of the night."

These precautions were taken after an announcement from the RNC, urging women to take special care and to avoid going out alone.

Important to report assaults

Wadman said that it is important to remember the courage of the women who came forward to report the assaults.

This was echoed by RNC Const. Steve Curnew during an announcement on Tuesday.

"We realize how hard it is for them to do such a thing, a number of these incidents go unreported," said Curnew. "Their willingness to do so has made our community a safer place."

Wadman said it is now time to keep the conversation up and maintain a level of awareness.

No one knows this more than Wilkins, who sees the other face of downtown on a regular basis.

"There's a lot more stuff that goes on down there — and I've seen a lot of stuff — and that's just part of it," she said. "Nobody realizes how scary it really is. You've really got to be careful going out and drinking, especially this time of year."